Indian sports ministry and IOC fight over government interference
14.05.2010By Play the Game
Earlier this month, Play the Game brought a story from insidethegames.biz, citing that the Indian sports ministry introduced a law limiting the number of terms Indian sports officials can be at the helm of the national sports bodies.
At that time, V.K Malhorta, vice-president of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA), claimed that they would take legal action against the decision and warned that India risked suspension from the IOC if the law was imposed. "The IOC and the OCA (Olympic Council of Asia) don't allow Government interference and may take action if they come to know this” he stated.
And it seems that Malhorta was right.
In a letter sent earlier this week to the Indian government, the IOC wrote that it is opposing the efforts by the government to impose term limits on sports officials. Both sides plan to meet in Lausanne soon to discuss the issue, according to letters.
Injeti Srinivas, joint secretary of Ministry if Youth Affairs & Sports, calls the IOC position “strange” in a letter dated Wednesday to IOC President Jacques Rogge.
“We are surprised, that in such a fundamental matter, as good democracy, and clean elections in the NOCs, you do not wish, to take any position, except to say, that no matter how unacceptable the situation, the national authorities, or courts of the country are not to look their way,” Srinivas wrote.
The IOC opposition to the government proposal is based on protecting the autonomy of NOCs. The IOC does not take issue with the principle of term limits. The IOC has its own term limits including a maximum presidential tenure of 12 years and age-limit of 70 years for IOC members.
“Our point is that such measures (which relate to internal operations of those organizations) must not be decided or imposed by law or an external body’s decision,” IOC NOC Relations Director Pere Miro wrote to the sports ministry on Monday. “But must be decided freely and democratically by the competent organs of those organisations, on a case-by-case basis, and this must be reflected in their respective statues/constitutions.
“This is our understanding of what autonomy of the Olympic and sports organisations means, and it is one of the basic principles of the Olympic Movement.”
The IOC, in its response, says government-imposed term limits could breach the Olympic Charter.